Bhutan is one of the most closed countries in Asia. Visiting as an independent traveler is pretty much impossible—an official tour is compulsory.
Even the most privileged travelers consider Bhutan a special destination. Its secluded location, limited accessibility, and preservation efforts have shielded many from visiting this jewel in the Himalayas. Bhutan only opened its doors to tourism in 1974, with the number for tourists kept to an environmentally manageable level through government regulated tourist tariffs. Bhutanese are renowned for their happiness and are a proud people who wear their national costume with pride.
Bhutan, the Druk Yul-the land of Thunder Dragon lies between Tibet and India along the slopes of the Himalayas. Bhutan’s early history is steeped in the Buddhist tradition and mythology. The fire and earthquakes have destroyed the original documents of the Bhutanese Pre-history. Some sources say that nomadic herders inhabited Bhutan as early as 2000 – 1500 BC.
The recorded history of Bhutan started from 746 AD, after the visit of Guru Rinpoche to this country. Guru Rinpoche is considered as the second Buddha and the patron saint of Bhutan. He introduces the Buddhist religion in the country-which provides the sense of unity during the medieval ages.
Bhutan was a cluster of fragmented territory, which was constantly at odds with each other in the early 17th century. It was during this time that Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel visited the country from Tibet. With his religious powers and strong sense of politics, he unified the country as one nation. He set up a central administration, established a legal system, built many fortress called Dzongs, which were served as and effective defense and to this day; serves as centers of religious & administrations in the country.
The most important thing was happened in the history on 1907, when people elected Sir Ugyen Wangchuck as the first hereditary king of Bhutan unanimously. HRH Jigme Wangchuck succeeded him and ruled the country from 1926 to 1952. HRH Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, also known as the father of modern Bhutan, was king from 1952 to 1972.
Since his coronation in 1974, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the fourth King, has dedicated himself to defining and realizing a long-term vision and direction for the country. He promoted an approach of development known as Gross National Happiness (GNH) which calls for careful balance between creation of material wealth and the spiritual, cultural and social needs of the society. He also pursued a process of democratization and involvement of the people in their own affairs from the national to the community level.
On 14 December 2006, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck voluntarily abdicated the throne and handed over the responsibilities of the Monarch and the Head of State to the Crown Prince His Royal Highness Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck who has since assumed responsibilities as the Fifth King of Bhutan.
His Majesty the King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck was adorned with the Raven Crown at an ornate coronation ceremony in Thimphu on 6 November 2008, becoming the world’s youngest reigning monarch and head of the newest democracy.
Bhutan Geography is a landlocked country hidden in the Eastern Himalayas bordered by Republic of China in the north and India in the south, east and west. Bhutan is a small country with an area of 38394 square kilometers. In-fact, the entire country is mountainous with elevation ranging from 180 meters above sea level in the south and more than 7400 meters in the north.
Bhutan can be divided into three major geographic zones. The three major geographic zones are the southern zone, the central zone and the northern zones.
In the southern zone, it is hot and humid with dense tropical forests with an average temperature of 20 degree centigrade.
The central zone lies within the 2000 meters to 3500meters above the sea level with semi tropical forest, most of the region is alpine. It is again divided into three regions. They are
The northern zones forms the part of the Great Himalayas stretches west to east from an altitude 6500 meters to 7400 meters.
Agriculture and the livestock rising is the mainstay of the Bhutanese Economy. They contribute about 45 percent to GNP. About 79% of the population’s main source of livelihood is agriculture.
The major crops grown by the farmers are rice, maize, wheat and apples, oranges, potatoes and cardamom are some of the cash crops grown by the farmers in Bhutan.
Over the decades, planned socio –economic development has brought about significant changes to the economy of Bhutan. The major exports are hydroelectric power, wood based products, minerals, horticulture products, calcium carbides and cement. We import the consumer goods and essentials like rice, salt, oil, patrol and kerosene. Hydroelectric power is the Bhutan’s largest resource and is sustainable, renewable and environmentally friendly. We have so much of potential and by tapping all this potential will raise the national revenue considerably.
Tourism is the highest source of hard currency. However, the tourism industry in Bhutan runs on the principle of sustainability, economical viable and environmentally friendly, in keeping with Royal Government of Bhutan’s cautious and balance development & modernization. There is no restriction on the number of tourist visiting Bhutan; however the policy of ‘high value and low volume’ ensures the preservation of Bhutan’s culture and traditions.
Our major trading partner is India. The two countries have free trade relationship agreement. We export about 90 percent to India and source for 70 percent imports. Bhutan also has preferential trade agreement with Bangladesh.
Bhutanese arts and crafts are very unique and have its roots in the Buddhist religion. Almost all representations in arts are the struggle between good and evil. Bhutanese arts are mostly subjective, symbolic and impersonal. They are also highly decorative and ornamental. The development of Bhutan’s artistic heritage traced to the great 15th century terton (Treasure discover) Pema Lingpa, who was an accomplished painter, sculptor and architect.
The country’s artistic tradition received a further boost under the instructions of Lama Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. Desi Tenzin Rabgye opened the school of Zorig chusum or the thirteen types of Bhutanese arts and crafts in the year 1680. The thirteen arts of Zorig Chusum are:
The traditional Bhutanese arts have two main characteristics: It is religious and anonymous. The traditional arts work is to make a work of faith and discipline. They are bounded by the very strict iconographic conventions and their first responsibility is to observe them scrupulously. However, the disciples of a master do all the preliminary work, while the fine work is executed by the master himself.